America, December 21, 2006
And I'm enjoying the wild and wooly ride!
Over the last year or so, an initiative has slowly formed to change education in the developing world. Based around the idea that children need to "learn learning" and computers are the best tool to do this, One Laptop Per Child has developed a cheap (in price, not technology or manufacture) laptop and proposes that developing world governments buy these computers for internal distribution.
From the on-set, as a techie, an uber-Geek even, with experience in and love for the developing world, I've followed OLPC with deepening interest. I also noticed that while there were many articles about the program on various websites, there wasn't a single website focused on the computer, now called the Children's Machine XO, or its professed goals of changing education.
So I started a website about it all, One Laptop Per Child News, with the main goals of staying educated on OLPC and to enter into the debate about its merits. OLPC News was also the next step in my blogging career, running my own collaborative blog, experimenting with different management and promotional techniques along the way.
Now, only five months later, I've succeeded beyond my wildest dreams!
This unpaid hobby of mine, a loose association of writers and commenters myopically focused on the One Laptop Per Child program, has jumped into the forefront of the international debate.
Everyone from the OLPC leadership to national news media reads One Laptop Per Child News. Leading websites and news organs regularly republish our scoops of OLPC-related news. Controversial posts have altered the conversation around the OLPC program and ideas and memes from the site have entered the vocabulary of other OLPC followers.
And just this week, I've had the greatest compliment of my blogging career. Conspiracy theorists, so amazed at how informative the content and professional the site, have come to the conclusion that OLPC News cannot be the humble work of yours truly. That there must be an invisible corporate mandarin behind the scenes, orchestrating the site's success.
To be honest, at first I was offended. As long time readers of mine on all the sites I write for know, I call life how I see it, warts and all, with no apologies and no hidden agendas. I write for OLPC News in exactly the same style - honestly how I feel at that moment based on my experience and the knowledge I have at hand, other protagonists be damned.
That my voice could be bought, by an employer or companies I associate with in my profession, was so absurd I finally realized the underlying flattery. Not only is everyone involved with One Laptop Per Child reading OLPC News on a daily basis, the site is so insightful and so influential, that key players are becoming paranoid about what we'll talk about next.
And that, my friends, is the very definition of blogging success.